Three Fictions about Obama's Second Term (and Why They aren't Encouraging)
A week after the presidential election, we're wading deep in election analyses and prognoses for what a second Obama term means to the nation. Republicans and conservatives, of course, are keenly interested in what the president's reelection means to their fortunes. It might be helpful to address a few key arguments advanced by pundits about the election and its consequences -- arguments that could be loosely defined as fictions.
First, voters didn't give President Obama a mandate for his lame duck term. The president won the national popular vote narrowly and, likewise, vote totals were close in critical swing states. These are, indeed, facts. But Mr. Obama won handily in the Electoral College. In part, a big victory in electoral votes gives a presidential campaign winner a "mandate" that a close popular vote does not.
You may suggest that the president really didn't campaign on any new initiatives; most of what he did during the election was rope-a-dope. Hence, no second term mandate. But does a mandate really matter to Barack Obama?
Did the president have a mandate in his first term to ram through his signature piece of legislation -- legislation that impacts one-sixth the economy and is quite historic? ObamaCare wasn't on the president's agenda in the 2008 election. A majority of Americans have consistently opposed the legislation and the law. Mr. Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi eagerly governed against the will of a national majority to pass ObamaCare. Leftists are about remaking society, not bowing to the will of the people.
Things were different, you say, after the Republicans took control of the U.S. House. A Republican majority effectively stymied big legislative initiatives by the president and congressional Democrats. That's true, but who knows if the president expects or needs big measures passed in his second term? Mr. Obama's second act may be about consolidating and advancing the gains he's already made, especially regarding ObamaCare.
Moreover, the president has shown little hesitancy in using executive orders to prod the nation leftward. Are the president's czars going anywhere anytime soon? Just check out what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is doing to the coal industry. Federal departments and agencies are the president's cat-paws. The Justice Department is a powerful cudgel in the dirty work of affecting change. The president has the tools -- better to say, "weapons" -- in continuing to transform the U.S. along the lines of corporatist Europe.
Second, troubles, foreign and domestic, will sink the president, we read. Yes, Mr. Obama inherits his own mess. But the president made a pretty big mess in his first term. Still, those troubles didn't send the U.S.S. Obama to the bottom of the briny election sea. True, a bad economy didn't sink FDR's 1936 reelection bid, but the times and people -- the overall context -- were very different in the 1930s. In more recent times, sluggish economies and higher unemployment doomed Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. Voters know the current economy is bad; they've lived it. Can't blame the mainstream media for pulling the wool over voters' eyes on the economy, though the hackery tried.
The problem is the dependent class -- from welfare recipients to bureaucrats to government contractors -- has expanded to the point where the nation is flirting with "Californiaization." (California, where a majority just voted for higher taxes.) Let's not forget to add the steady influx of immigrants -- many illegal -- to the stew. Sensible arguments about the limping Obama economy don't resonate with many in these cohorts because they're not directly dependent on the economy for their well beings; they need Uncle Sam -- and have him until good ol' "Unc" is no longer capable of stroking checks.
Further prolific government spending will doom the president in his second go-round, some say. Actually, our credit card-happy chief executive has and will do more than harm his own fortunes. He's setting up hardworking Americans for quite a crash. The nation's debt is above $16 trillion -- and the debt clock keeps on ticking. Manifestly unsustainable spending and borrowing were the president's record going into election day. But Obama's voters -- most, anyway -- didn't give a flip.
You would think that young people, whose futures are on the line, would care most about Washington's debt mega bomb exploding. But the younger cohorts came out for the president (talk about handing Mr. Obama the rope that becomes young voters' nooses).
Mr. Obama, an egregiously bad steward of the public purse, wasn't held accountable (through an election loss) for his maleficence. So, over the next four agonizingly painful years, more spending, borrowing, and ballooning of the national debt is going to fuss the Obama majority?
Well, if burgeoning debt leads to collapse, it will, some say. On the current trajectory, when -- not if -- a debt-induced collapse comes, we'll see if enough of Blue America rises up and repudiates Mr. Obama. Of course, a collapse would have to happen on the president's watch. A disaster of such magnitude means a crisis and national emergency. Who do people invariably turn to when there's a crisis: the government. Uncle Sam, in this case. The left, regardless the stripe, are adept at exploiting crises and satisfying a fearful public's need for strong central direction in times of uncertainty and peril. Are we sure a collapse would convert untold millions of Obama supporters to limited government and the free market? The jackbooted left might be welcomed by the Obama majority. Cancerous statism may metastasize and strength its hold on the nation.
Third, and finally, President Obama will moderate his approach and seek compromise with Republicans to ensure his legacy. This one's a real knee-slapper. Mr. Obama is a dyed-in-the-wool leftist ideologue. After Obama's Democrats and he were pummeled by voters in a lower turnout midterm election, and with his reelection looming, the president didn't moderate much of anything. The man's aim is purposely single-minded and his intransigence is part of him. Add conceit to the Obama mix, conceit that could only have swollen after winning the election.
Mr. Obama isn't interested in a legacy of compromise and get-along. The president wants to go down in history as a great game-changer. He wants the left to venerate him for ages as the leader who resurrected statism and gave it new vigor after the setbacks of the Reagan Era. He wants a big, gaudy monument on the mall. Compromise and accommodation are for wussies in Mr. Obama's book -- unless his opponents compromise and accommodate him in ways that are efficacious to his agenda. That's bipartisanship, Obama-style.
So what's the takeaway here? First, know thy enemy as thyself. Know and accept what drives the president and his voters. Hoping, wishing, and expecting that the president will run aground his own follies may be folly in its own right.
The next four years need to be spirited guerilla warfare aimed squarely at tripping-up and stalling this president and his allies on their march to a more thoroughly statist America; that is, if conservatives and Republicans have the stomach for the fight. The Right needs to exploit every means possible -- and creatively -- to waylay the president. Heck, asymmetric warfare worked for the North Vietnamese and the mujahideen. A civil, political version may work on these shores. Are you up to it, comrade?